More than half a million viewers tuned in for ESPN’s most recent boxing main event.
Nielsen Media Research released figures this week that indicated an average audience of 500,000 watched Luis Alberto Lopez defeat Joet Gonzalez by unanimous decision in their featherweight title fight Friday night at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez’s points win against Gonzalez, which didn’t begin until 11:51 p.m. EDT, drew a peak audience of 536,000.
ESPN’s entire three-bout broadcast, which lasted two hours and 24 minutes, attracted an average audience of 544,000.
Nielsen’s figures include only those that watched the Lopez-Gonzalez tripleheader on ESPN’s English-language linear channel. It was also available on ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language channel, and ESPN+, the network’s streaming service.
Nielsen doesn’t have access to streaming numbers. ESPN doesn’t share those viewership figures publicly, either.
The co-feature ESPN televised before Lopez beat Gonzalez drew a slightly larger audience than the main event.
An average of 551,000 fans watched unbeaten junior middleweight contender Xander Zayas beat Roberto Valenzuela Jr. by fifth-round technical knockout in that bout. Viewership of Zayas-Valenzuela peaked at 563,000.
The opener of this tripleheader, Emiliano Vargas’ third-round stoppage of Alejandro Guardado, was watched by an average of 673,000 fans. The first fights of ESPN’s broadcasts often benefit from lead-in programming, in this case the Army-UTSA college football game.
An audience of 800,000 was tuned in exactly when coverage switched from the Army-UTSA game to Top Rank’s boxing show.
Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs), of Mexicali, Mexico, outpointed Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs), of Glendora, California, by large margins on all three scorecards, despite that the game Gonzalez made their 12-round fight for Lopez’s IBF 126-pound championship competitive. Judges Ruben Carrion (116-112), Robert Hoyle (118-110) and Steve Weisfeld (117-111) all credited Lopez for a convincing victory.
The 21-year-old Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs), of Sunrise, Florida, dropped Mexico’s Valenzuela (21-5, 20 KOs) twice in the first round and was dominant throughout their bout. Referee Mark Nelson stopped the action 42 seconds into the fifth round in part due to the nasty cut across the bridge of Valenzuela’s nose.
The 19-year-old Vargas (7-0, 6 KOs) picked apart Spain’s Guardado (5-1, 1 KO) for two-plus rounds, until referee Lee Rogers stepped between them and halted their scheduled six-rounder at 1:07 of the third round. Las Vegas’ Vargas, a top lightweight prospect, is the youngest son of former junior middleweight champ Fernando Vargas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.